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Actility activates Demand Response to balance the Belgian grid following a sudden electricity shortage on Wednesday 19 October

Actility, a leading provider of Smart Demand Response aggregation services, has succesfully supported the Belgian electricity grid to recover from a sudden lack of electricity this 19 October.

On 19 October, an electricity shortage of no less than 750 MW had been monitored in the Belgian grid by Elia, the Transmission Grid Operator.

For being able to balance the electricity grid, Elia requires flexible power stations to increase their power output. In addition, they also call upon flexible consumers to reduce their power consumption. This is referred to as Demand Response. Actility successfully responded to such call for Demand Response on Wednesday, thanks to the efforts of its numerous partners in the industrial sectors such as metallurgy, chemistry and pharmaceuticals, food & beverages but also in the tertiary sectors, mainly in banks or hospitals.

Actility’s partners provide such efforts to reduce their consumption only a few hours per year, but get paid during every hour of the year where this flexibility is available. This results in interesting revenues and is a cost reduction in energy sourcing. Furthermore, it provides a crucial support to the Belgian Grid, for being able to balance generation from clean technologies such as wind and solar power.

The  main cause of the call for flexibility on 19 October originated from a sudden drop of the electricity generated by the belgian wind mills. This drop in power was the consequence of decreased wind speed coming from the North Sea, which is per say no abnormal meteorogical event. Yet, the drop occurred in less than one hour. This resulted in a sudden shortage of about 650 MW, which is equivalent to the loss of two large gas power stations of belgium (figure 1).

Wind power generated infographics

Furthermore, this sudden shortage was concomitant with a higher than expected evening peak in electricity demand and little available generation capacity in Belgium. Today, only 2400 MW of the installed 5800 MW nuclear capacity is operational .

Altogether, this led Elia to activate all the flexible resources that were still available to compensate for this sudden imbalance. Elia even asked, via aggregator Actility, industrial sites to reduce their energy offtake from the grid, though the activation of the special balancing mechanism called R3-DP (Tertiary Reserve “dynamic profile”). This tertiary reserve product is specifically designed for demand response via industrial processes.

It is not the first time Actility is trusted to handle difficult cases on the electricity grid. The company has delivered serveral successful DR activations in the past years in the Benelux, France and the UK.  The innovative services provided by Actility are based on their strong expertise of ICT and the energy sector. Their proven track record in the field of energy and the Internet of Things has even been awarded earlier this week as start-up of the year by Ernst & Young.

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